What made the Apple I unique was that it came pre-assembled. Before then, if you wanted a computer, you had to be good with a soldering iron and an oscilloscope. The Apple I was easier for the less geeky geek to build into a whole computer. They sold it as a way to raise funds for the Apple II.
In 1977, the Apple II was a whole computer sold at a time when everyone else sold kits. It was easier for the less geeky geek to get into software.
The Apple II was the first computer that actually LOOKED like what we now think of a computer as looking like. Every desktop machine that followed took its design cues from the Apple II, much like how all modern notebooks look like the Powerbook 100, all personal music players look like the iPod, all smartphones are beginning to resemble the iPhone, and all GUIs look like Apple’s Desktop Metaphor (Apple didn’t invent the GUI – just most of the elements contained in modern ones, including pull-down menus, resizable overlapping windows, File folders, and the trashcan. MS invented the Help Menu and Alt-Tab.).
The factors that led to Microsoft’s success (incompatible file formats between different programs running on different OSes, different plugs for different brands of computers, and incompatible data disks between manufacturers) don’t exist any more. End users didn’t choose MS because it was better. They got stuck with it because that’s what the person paying for the computer chose. The person paying for it chose it because it was compatible with all the other IBM systems the company already owned.
Through the 80s and 90s MS survived on inertia and lock-in. That time has passed. Now, communications protocols (802.11), file formats (XML, HTML, OpenDocument, TXT, etc.) and connectors (USB, IEEE1394) are all standards-based and buyers no longer have to stick to one platform to ensure compatibility. A USB plug on a cell phone is the same as one on an MP3 player, which is the same as on a PC. Your data can move freely.
In the 21st century, America saw a shift in purchasing – end users were making purchasing decisions in greater numbers than ever. IT departments, no longer burdened by a monoculture, allowed people to choose their own machines.
And because the rise of the internet, more people were buying a computer for “personal use” and spending their own money to buy them.
…and studies have shown, when paying for a computer with your own money – 2 out of 3 choose a Mac.
Apple corporate culture has always put END USERS over builders, IT departments, developers, and even over it’s own team. This ticks off people in tech, because most of them are builders, in IT departments, or want to develop for the platform (which explains why they see Apple as controlling and secretive, because from their perspective it’s the truth). However, if you are among the 97% of the population who has never built a computer, formatted a hard drive, or knows who made their RAM – Apple, Inc. is a breath of fresh air in a geek-controlled environment.
Mostly from I’m in Love With My Own Comments @ Prospere